As many of you know I’m an early adopter of the Adobe CS6 Master Collection. One of the things I spent the better part of April and May doing is researching what Laptop I was going to buy to support CS6. One of the things I realized early on was this was going to need a lot of RAM. Some of you won’t believe this but all together I found a Laptop that could pull it off Equivalent to a Mac Book Pro for less than $400…

Buying a Photoshop Laptop in 2012 is a little different than it was in previous years. For one thing the graphics card isn’t just to take load off of the CPU anymore. Between OpenGL and the new Mercury Performance Engine in Photoshop CS6 it can enhance the performance and live draw renders dramatically.

Yes I know must be thinking I’m full of it or this machine can’t possibly handle Photoshop, but I will say that I did luck into a sale at Best Buy. Here are the specs for my Photshop Laptop:

Hardware Specs for ASUS Laptop
OS: Windows 7 Home Premium (64Bit OS)
Processors: Pentium R B960 Dual Core 2.2GHz Windows Subscore 6.1
RAM: 8GB DDR3 Windows Subscore 7.1
Hard Drive: 320GB HDD 5400RMP Windows Subscore: 5.9

Laptop Cost: $332.00
PNY 4GB Ram: $22.00
Total Before Taxes: $354.00


It’s all about knowing what you need to buy and how each spec effects the performance of the Program. It will perform even faster when hooked up to my external 7200RMP Hard Drive used as a Scratch Disk. Bear in mind this test also while I was running a screen recorder and had Firefox open as well, so no the test isn’t rigged.

The new features in Photoshop, Illustrator, Premier, and After Effects all take advantage of RAM as well as use both RAM and processing power more efficiently, as well as work with your Graphics Card to offset these.

Not only does it run Photoshop

Now I know what some of you are thinking, why would I prioritize running Adobe CS6 off of my Laptop. Well for those of you who don’t know I try to be a Green Graphic Designer. So I like that I can work on an energy star compliant machine and will work off the batter for 2-3 hours conserving energy, keeping my electricity bill low and supporting the environment. I also print as little as possible, print proofs very small and section and reuse parts of the paper, but I’ll write an article about Green Design workflows later.

Compare to a Mac Book PRO
So for all of you fanboys out there gushing over your Mac Book Pro’s I really want to see what your $1200 Dual Core 4GB Machine can do about my 8GB Monster at 1/3 of the price!!! Don’t get me wrong, I’ve used Mac’s I’ve enjoyed them, I still own one that was a gift, but they just aren’t practical for Design Professionals cost wise anymore.

Not only that but they ironically are not as compatible with Adobe Products as they used to be considering Adobe customers make up the higher end of their client base, that is a real problem.

Mac Book Pro Starter specs:

13-inch: 2.4 GHz $1200

  • 2.4GHz dual-core Intel Core i5
  • 4GB 1333MHz
  • 500GB 5400-rpm1
  • Intel HD Graphics 3000
  • Built-in battery (7 hours)2

Lets take it a step further, for the price of that Mac Pro I can build my starter version of the Ultimate Photoshop CS6 PC, (which I will write about next week) and this Laptop with change left over to pay for half of my Acer Tablet which is equal or superior to a iPad2 for $100 less, and download the Adobe Touch Apps to have a complete studio setup hardware wise minus printers and wacom tablets.

Or…For the price of the Mac Book Pro I could jump over to and grab a 16GB Laptop with a 3GB Dedicated Video Card and possibly 2 Hard Drives one of them being an SSD and it may even have a bluray player or burner. Perfect for working in Premier and After Effects as well as Photoshop and then burning the material for a presentation or final product.

Why this Photoshop Laptop Setup works so well…
Photoshop and nearly all the new Adobe CS6 Products take more advantage of the 64Bit OS and the ability to utilize Unlimited RAM. The more RAM you have that it can use the better. It also helps that they have already made the programs faster and more efficient. Add to that the fact that it can also use the real power of your Graphics Card for rendering base task, and RAM and Processing power for other task and now basically the Adobe CS6 programs can use your “Whole Machine” more effectively.

With that in mind RAM is the number 1 Priority followed by Processing Power and GPU/Graphics Card. Hard Drive speed can be an issue but this is fairly common and as long as you’re at least at 5400RPM you’ll be fine. 6GB of Ram is the minimum I recommend if you want to feel like you’re not waiting for things to happen while working in Photoshop, 8-16GB is the ideal for a Laptop and 16-32GB for a Desktop.

My original budget for a new Laptop was about $700 which is exactly what it should be to get something good, particularly if you want to work in Photoshop and Premier, but I found a Laptop that would get the job done for less than that because I did my homework, read reviews online and I can honestly say I’m more than satisfied with how it turned out. Do your research, and you will be fine.

By the way, I’ve read and while I agree with most of it, some of it is OVERKILL and I know how you can build an equivalent machine for your needs a little cheaper that prioritizes RAM and CPU.

About Roberto Blake
Roberto Blake is a Professional Graphic Designer, Photographer and Digital Artist. When working with clients to develop their branding, Roberto creates content to support Designers and Artist in the creative community through online articles, tutorials and videos.